Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shotgun Start?

May I start out by saying that there are some CRAZY people in this world? I am convinced of this more and more everyday as I go through life. The more people I meet, the more I’m convinced that “People are CRAZY”. I’m not saying ALL people are crazy, but there is more than a fair share that should be eliminated so that we would have more oxygen to breathe. There are too many oxygen thieves!

We really did have a shotgun start on our usually quiet Sunday afternoon ride hosted by East Ridge Bike Shop. As usual, we had about 40-50 people show up for this ride. It is a great ride as you have all levels of experience and ability. This is a ride that allows you to basically choose which group to ride with, fast, medium or slow. The group usually stays together for the first mile or two. With that in mind, you know how 40-50 cyclists of all abilities might look cruising down the road. Inevitably you have some knuckleheads riding three abreast and some even close to the yellow line. Sometimes you might even take up the whole rode. Trust me, I know this is WRONG, but it does happen, it’s just the nature of getting so many people together. This day, however, I had just commented on how nice it was for a group this size to be riding in a double pace line. The pace was easy and everyone, at least in the first 20-30 people in the group, was riding side by side in a perfect double pace-line. Uncommon for this group, but nice to see. Maybe it’s because it’s getting later in the year and people are finally learning the rules of the road? What happens next is a first for me and hopefully a last. I am absolutely stunned at what happened.

I was in the middle of the group towards the white line. I always try to ride as close to the white line as possible because I think it’s better to go in a ditch than to get hit by a car. I’ll take my chances in a ditch any day! I hear the folks in the back yell “CAR BACK” and as he starts to pass, I hear some not-so-friendly exchanges of words from both fellow cyclists and the driver of the truck. As he gets right beside me and the folks around me, I hear him yell at the top of his lungs “F---- YOU bla bla bla” He sped towards the front of the group and cut the front riders off and as he passed told them the same thing he had just shared with the rest of us. I guess he didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Nevertheless, this guy is ticked off at the world and speeds away. As he speeds away I see him slowing to make a right turn into what turned out to be his house. I thought this was a little awkward but hey, oh well, it’s our right to ride on the road, and he just needs to get over it. This happens more than not when someone rides by and yells obscenities at me but I normally just ignore them simply because I will not win that fight, plus I know that I am a bigger person that that. I just try my best to keep my mouth shut and hopefully they will go on to where ever they are going in such a hurry and leave me alone. We as cyclists will not win that battle. a. they are in a car a lot bigger and faster than me and b. People are CRAZY! Sorry, but back to the story. As we were passing his house, with him standing near his truck, I hear someone in the back of the group yell “have a nice day” or something to that effect. Did I mention that he is obviously in the above mentioned category of CRAZY people? Not even two seconds later I hear a gunshot! You heard me, a freakin gun shot! This clown has either fired a weapon at us or pointed it into the air and fired it. Either way, he fired a weapon in response to the dialogue. I have not been that frustrated in a long time. I was extremely angry and felt violated by this clown who had some obvious issues, but I was also angry at my fellow cyclist. Here’s my opinion on the whole situation.

There is no excuse for what happened. The guy, or clown as I referred to already, had no business firing a weapon in response to a group of cyclists enjoying a Sunday evening ride, no matter what! Cycling is a very popular thing around this area and for the most part, the locals are used to it. We rarely have problems in that area of town. What this guy did was borderline insane and he should be punished by the law for such recklessness. No doubt about it, this guy is an IDIOT! With that said we as cyclists have a responsibility to obey the laws of the road while riding as well as use a little common sense. As I said earlier, in situations like that, we are not going to win. That is neither the time nor place to try to get a pissing match with someone like that. The problem is that you never know who is in the car that passes. We are better off keeping our mouths shut when someone shows their ignorance, not matter how hard that may be. We will not win on our own. The laws are on our side so we should try to use that approach rather than taking things into our own hands. I’m convinced that if someone hadn’t responded to this clown, the incident that ensued would not have happened. Not to excuse this guy for what he did, but it could have been prevented by not responding. It sounds crazy, but as I said earlier, a car is bigger and faster than me and as in this instance, heaven forbid they have a gun. Wow, I can’t believe I’m even writing about this.

There are a couple lessons that I take from this situation. First, there are some CRAZY people in this world. With the economy and everything else going on, you never know what people are thinking and are dealing with. For all I know, this guy could have just been laid off from his job, filed for bankruptcy, or his wife might have just packed up the kids and left, who knows. This applies to every situation in life too. Let’s be more sensitive to those around us. You never know what people are dealing with. Again, there is no excuse for what this guy did but it could have been prevented. I don’t want to come across as being a bleeding heart but let’s use some common courtesy and try to understand why people act the way they act instead of responding with profanity or hostility. Secondly, by responding to IDIOTS, you put yourself and those around you at risk. What if? Just what if this guy had misfired and hit someone in our group and killed them? Does that sound unrealistic? What’s unrealistic is this guy even firing the weapon in the first place. What if he had hit me and killed me? I would really be ticked off then ;) Is it worth it just to get in the last word or does it make you feel good to respond to someone that doesn’t have a clue? We need to be bigger than that! This guy just doesn’t get it! He certainly won’t get it if we continue to respond by yelling back profanity and then smarting off as we are riding past his house. We have a huge responsibility to educate those around us and that’s not the way to do it. Before we can do that however, we need to educate ourselves or our fellow cyclist on certain etiquette as well. Do we always obey the traffic laws as cyclists? Can we do a better job of common courtesy on the road? All I know is that we have a long way to go around here in terms of awareness and cooperation. Instead of helping increase cycling awareness and education to non-cyclists, this was unfortunately was a huge setback. I for one cannot believe what happened. I would love to get your thoughts on this.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What You Train is What You Get

This winter I committed to an extended period of low intensity training we cyclist like to call base training. I set a goal to train for 8-12 weeks without going over Zone 2 Heart Rate, for me that’s 153bpm. For those that don’t know me, this was very hard for me to do. Well here I am 7 months later and I’m still training at lower intensities. Sometimes not on purpose, I just haven’t been disciplined enough to add in intervals at higher intensities. Quiet the contrast to how I use to train. I use to be of the mindset that if you weren’t suffering to the point of vomiting, you weren’t working/training hard enough. Every ride I did was one of two intensities; hard or harder! I grew up in the school of no pain no gain. After educating myself a little, by the way some people call that ignorance; I realized that there is definitely a method to the madness. There has to be a better way than how I was doing things. It took me a year or more to finally but into the process of systematic training but I have finally drank the cool-aid. The past few years as I developed as a cyclist I was what I call a Zone 3 Hero. Last year I would go out and ride hard and hang with some of the fast guys and occasionally inflict some pain myself. However, if the pace was pushed over that a little bit, I was dropped, or if there was a push to the finish or heaven forbid a sprint that required me to go above Zone 3-4, I was toast. Now, however, I think I have developed a pretty strong base but still need to add some high intensity training (HIT Intervals) in to my work-outs to take it to the next level.

There are numerous physiological reasons for what I described in the paragraph above. In both cases my body adapted to the type training I was doing. Over time, no matter what you do, your body goes through a process called adaptation and becomes really efficient at what you tell it to do. An example is a Zone 3 Hero. That was me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is not going to win many races. Trust me, I know. I was for the most part a decent cyclist. On most recreational rides on the week-ends with the LBS and even rides with the boys, I felt like a champ. As soon as I started racing I realized that I wasn’t quite as strong as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, in the few races I competed in, I normally had top 10 finishes (out of 11-12 racing) Just kidding! I did fairly well, ok, decent. I was a little better than average. I don’t know about you but those are not words in which I want to be associated. Here I am today in a very similar situation but in my opinion, a better one. Just like last year when I raced, yesterday while on a club ride my body did exactly what I asked it to do.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m stuck in an extended base training period. I have yet to deliberately add HIT Intervals as a part of my weekly work-outs. This can be a problem if you want to push the intensity for any length of time. Notice the key words length of time. I can go out and push the pace for a short period but yesterday was proof that I need some more work at interval training and Threshold training. I was on the weekly Sunday evening ride with the boys and they were in rare form. One guy is silly strong and then another guy that coached me last year was there. There were the usual suspects that are fairly strong too. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do based on what I had eaten that day and I’m sure that did play a small part in my performance but for the purpose of this post, I’m sticking to the title, What You Train is What You Get. Here’s how the ride progressed. We were doing an old familiar loop close by that is about 32 miles in length with a few sections of rolling hills. No significant climbs, but definitely not flat either. Great course but there is one part that can sneak up on you and it did. After 18 miles and the split, we were cruising along at 21.7mph. I say split because we came to an intersection and half of us made it across and the other half had to stop for a car. That also happens to be the same place in the route where there are a series of steep, stair step climbs. This was the beginning of the end for me and one of my buddies. As soon as we crossed the road, one guy attacked and the other guy followed. The other guy, who was my coach last year, also races in the masters division and has been racing now for about 20 years. We spent the next 10 miles trying to bridge but just couldn’t close the gap. We had them in sight the whole time but just couldn’t make any gains. We actually increased our average speed from 21.5 to 22.8 while trying to get across. With that said you can imagine what my intensity level was by then. It was already high, near threshold, but by then I was suffering at around 180-185 bpm. Eric and I both were on the bubble and after not making significant progress; we sat up and cruised on in to the finish.

Lesson learned. If I expect to ride at that intensity, I need to train there. Not all the time, but it is necessary to develop that energy system. I need to add some HIT Intervals as well as some LT and Anaerobic efforts into my work outs. I have been staying way too low in my zones to ride like that. This also brings up an interesting point. What are my goals? I really haven’t been training for any particular event or race so that’s why I haven’t been motivated to push the intensity. Goals are another topic for another day but you see where I’m going with that. I have trained my body to be really efficient at lower intensities. I bet I could ride all day at a lower heart rate and a slow century would likely be no problem. But as soon as I start hammering for an extended period, forget it. My body is doing exactly what I have been asking it to do. It really didn’t like me asking it to go above and beyond that level yesterday. What did that look like? It was painful. I had a little nausea and dizziness with a few black spots in my vision. My HR was well above Lactate Threshold so I knew what was coming. My body telling me that I haven’t trained for this kind of effort and it’s going to back it off a bit, whether I wanted it to or not. The bottom line is that we really do get what we train for or What You Train is What You Get!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Degree Makes ALL the Difference

"At 211 degrees water is HOT, at 212 degrees water boils, and when water boils it produces steam, and with steam we can power a train! One degree makes all the difference."

I ran across this video the other night while looking for material for Spinning class. You have to check it out. Let me know what you think.